ExpressCard gets a speed boost to 5 Gigabit/s

Hannover (Germany) – USB and PCIe received major speed upgrades, which means that the ExpressCard, which uses these two interfaces as underlying technologies, will be much faster again: PCMCIA today said that version 2.0 of the ExpressCard standard has been finalized and will provide 10x faster data transfer speeds than before. Why you should care, you ask? Simple: Imagine cheap external cards acting as SSDs and transferring data at 500 Megabyte/s (MB/s). Convinced?

The new standard was announced by PCMCIA, the trade organization for PC Card and ExpressCard technologies, at the Cebit tradeshow in Germany earlier today. The technology promises to substantially increase the bandwidth of ExpressCard products, such as external SSD cards, beginning in 2010.

ExpressCards are equipped with one PCI Express port and one USB port, which allows the external cards to be directly connected to a notebook’s chipset (as opposed to the preceding PCI-derived Cardbus interface). ExpressCard 2.0 integrates support for PCIe 2.0 and USB 3.0 (“Superspeed”) and therefore will support, in theory, data transfer rates of up to 5 Gb/s (625 MB/s), which is generally expected to be closer to 500 MB/s as soon as the drivers are flushed out.

PCMCIA said that ExpressCard slots are integrated in 95% of all consumer notebooks for flash memory, Wi-Fi, TV tuners, smart card readers, instrumentation, 3G, 1394A&B (Firewire) and SATA. ExpressCards come in two form factors, the 34 module that is 34 mm wide and a minimum of 75 mm long. Some technologies do not fit into this compact form factor, which is why there is a second “54” module, which is 54 mm wide. Both models are 5 mm thick.

PCMCIA believes that ExpressCard 2.0 will be adopted quickly with first products expected to become available in early 2010. First ExpressCard 1.0 products made their debut in 2005.